Startup of the Day: Estonian aerospace company SKYCORP Technologies

Founded in 2023 by Marek Alliksoo and Roman Suvorov, SKYCORP Technologies is a hydrogen drone and related infrastructure manufacturing company who is building the green autonomous ecosystem of drone-based services. Its core product, Gen2 hydrogen drone, will be launched in 2024. Recently, the startup closed the pre-seed round of €305,000, co-led by Destiny Energy and Baltic Sandbox Ventures.

In the Startup of the Day column, Marek Alliksoo, a co-founder of SKYCORP Technologies, shares the details about the startup’s idea, its product, and future plans.

The Startup of the Day column on AIN.Capital is dedicated to tech projects from all sectors that originated from the CEE countries. If you would like to introduce your project, please fill in the questionnaire.

Tell us about your startup. How does it work?

SKYCORP Technologies is a hydrogen drone and related infrastructure manufacturing company who is building the green autonomous ecosystem of drone-based services.

Our long endurance hydrogen drones increase coverage by 9 times over conventional battery drones enabling lifesaving and productive eyes in the sky for cities and regions while replacing the need for expensive helicopters or hours of driving.

Through our unique Product as a Service model our hydrogen drones enable aerial services such as incident response, public safety and security or inspecting renewables to produce more green energy while saving 90% of the inspection costs.

How did you come up with the startup’s idea? What was the reason/motivation behind it?

We started from a customer request from outside of Europe being asked for a compact multirotor drone which could fly for at least one hour and we initially wanted to solve it by connecting with capabable supplier in Europe, but didn’t find anyone that had such a drone. So we eventually decided to do our own research and ended up with hydrogen fuel cells as the only way to deliver.

In our case we’re also very happy that our problem required a physical product, while enabling advanced use-cases for the many software or AI products out there that can be more useful since we dramatically increase the amount of data we can produce. As a company we’re of course extremely concerned with having also a positive environmental impact and with hydrogen fuel cell drones we can make a big difference.

How long did it take to reach the prototype or MVP? What did you encounter?

The longest stage was really the initial research as it had to include also “what hydrogen is, how fuel cells work” and how to overcome the low awareness from the general public about the same questions. With drones really the main issues encountered were awareness and regulation related concerns.

When exactly did you launch your product? Or when the launch is planned?

Our Gen2 hydrogen drone will come out in the first half of 2024, we’ll start initially with our already agreed list of pilot partners to gather the real world use-case and workflow data and then make it available for other enterprises.

Tell us about the startup’s business model. How do you monetize your product?

Our customer base is B2B and B2G then we can of course directly sell the product. However, we want to introduce a new model, Product as a Service – a rental model, 99% of Drone as a Service companies don’t manufacture their own drones, yet they work from project to project, some can get very demanding and that’s where our product comes handy, since most of them have 1 or 2 DJI’s already bought, but when they get a request to map an entire city or a large area, it would either take a long time or they need to suddenly expand to 10-20 drones and pilots to meet the time requirements.

1 hydrogen drone and pilot can do the daily work of 8-9 battery drones and 8-9 pilots so it helps to offer a much more competitive price when the job is demanding. Additionally of course we always have some EU projects to advance development or local customers ourselves to service and keep our own pilots occupied.

What are your target markets and consumers?

Baltic’s is a nice home market, but of course have also interest from several other EU countries already and both in Asia and Americas as well.

Our task is to provide capable tools for producing actionable aerial data so if the consumer requirement matches that, then in reality the type of consumer can be quite varied, similarly to an Earth Observation satellite which can supply pictures for google maps, land boards, municipal planners, environmental crimes agencies or search and rescue teams. In fact, we often say that a drone is essentially an on-demand, responsive, high-resolution version of a satellite.

In terms of consumers we initially target public safety and security, particularly as police and other emergency responders are very interested in replacing their Chinese made drones with capable EU built and of course energy companies who need to inspect their renewable energy producing assets and keep them operating at full capacity. In addition, we see a lot of different use-cases where cities themselves want drones integrated as they seek to be more responsive and proactive towards their citizens, rather than driving around and dealing with problems all day.

If the startup has already launched the product, what are the results: metrics, income, or any clear indicators that can be evaluated.

Our core product will be launched in 2024, so the best metrics are yet to come. We do already have income from smaller activities and cash flow from on-going projects and we’ve this year already agreed on a good pipeline for approaching the product launch and scaling in 2024.

What about your team? How many people are working in the startup? If you’re looking for new employees, indicate whom exactly.

Our team is a total of 5. Next year we will definitely be looking to make a few extra hires with one of the first ones being a SW systems integrator (robotics) as to make it easier to install the various required functionalities to our on-board computer.

Have you already raised any investments? Provide us with more details on each funding round: the amount, investors, the purpose of the investment.

Recently, we secured €305,000 to accelerate the commercialization of our Generation 2 e-Drone Zero hydrogen drone and fund its further expansion. The investment was co-led by Destiny Energy and Baltic Sandbox Ventures. Syda Ventures and angel investor Artur Dianov also participated.

What’s next? Tell us about your future plans.

In 2024 we go out with our product and start scaling. We will also continue working towards the end goal, which is our Autonomous Skies platform as we want to create a fully autonomous ecosystem of hydrogen drones, which means self-sustainable “drone airports” able to refuel and handle hydrogen drones independently of a person on site. We’ve already validated the approach with our partners and of course there’s a fair amount of IP to still register.